After watching the Cardinals lose the two games we traveled a thousand miles and paid a jillion dollars to see, we said enough! We packed our bags and set off on the Tamiami Trail (pronounced “tammy-ammy” which all neatly rhymes with “cammy”) to cross the Florida Everglades, a.k.a. River of Grass. There be alligators and other reptiles there. In abundance.
Note: For you bicycling types, there’s a big Everglades bike ride planned for April 17th.
Our first stop–well, the second after Subway for sandwiches–was for something kind of different: Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours. Mom and I weren’t really interested in an airboat tour, but yesterday was Dad’s day to choose, and he really, really wanted to go for the ride. It didn’t seem fair to make him go by himself after he had so gamely joined in the things we wanted to do, so we paid our $20 and got in the $%*@ boat.
The two snakes curled up on the pier looking like they were just waiting for us to be left alone there had nothing to do with it. Honest!
As these things so often evolve, I had a wonderful time! Our guide, Ernie, was a charming and knowledgeable Indian man, who smoothly navigated the boat through the shallow waters while pointing out different species of plants and animals. I don’t mind admitting that the first time I saw a heron rise out of the reeds to fly alongside us for a few hundred yards, I teared up. So beautiful.
Ernie stopped the boat completely a couple of times, and as we sat there listening to his commentary on the surroundings, alligators started swimming toward the boat. Bunches of them! We thought they were coming for the human buffet, but it turns out that Ernie feeds them chunks of bread in exchange for them not eating him or his passengers while he points out the various alligator parts to the tourists.
The most exciting part came when we docked at an Indian camp way the heck out in the middle of nowhere (we could no longer hear any highway noise), and Ernie put Your Faithful Reporter to work:
Note: Had I known I would have been photographed, I would have worn a more flattering shirt. I thought we would be in the car all day.
Ernie instructed me to approach from the front because alligators can’t see straight ahead and to scratch way back behind her eyes. Cool! Not pictured is when he had me reach way under her chin and lift her head back. Cool! She never even flinched.
I did notice in this picture that she seemed to be eyeballing my shoes or perhaps the fleshy white meat that are my legs:
Mom got in the act, later in the day:
Lots of fun and more importantly, a great gift to spend some time enjoying an area that may someday vanish if we don’t get our act together. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend the trip. I’m a convert!
After all that excitement, we motored on to Naples (too crowded and overbuilt) and then onto Ft Myers for the night. This morning started on Sanibel Island where I saw my first osprey!
It was grooming itself and the wingspan on this thing was HUGE! I wish I could have seen it fly away, but I was busy picking up shells when it left.
After the alligator excitement, this little cutie didn’t get a rise out of me when he appeared on wall was leaning against:
Besides, he’s nowhere near as big as my house lizard.
On to St Petersburg, where our happy trio split up for a couple of days. Mom and Dad are ensconced in some hotel on the beach while I am using some reward cards for a hotel on the bayside. I’m going to meet up with some friends in the area (more on that later, I promise!) tomorrow, and then we’ll connect again to begin to wind our way home. (I think. Mom is making noises about going to New Orleans. I think she forgot I’m unemployed, which does give me time to travel but doesn’t provide the funds for it. LOL)
Left on my own for dinner, I opted for Village Inn, which we don’t have in Memphis. I knew it was a good decision when I saw this sign on the table:
Sure, I could’ve passed it up, but it’s FREE PIE!
So I ordered this:
It was tasty! And then I had (FREE) apple cinnamon pie. It was okay, but it didn’t complement the salad very well. Lemon meringue would have been soooo much better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t FREE so I stuck with apple.
After the great pie extravaganza, I headed over to Clearwater Beach and walked a bit, and then joined a couple thousand other people to watch the sunset:
Perfect end to the day! Or almost end. I came back to my hotel and took advantage of the onsite laundry to wash some clothes. And now I’m off to bed to get some much-needed rest. Not a lot of that (or official exercise) happening on this trip!